Networking. A concept that you hear everywhere, especially during the job search. Mentors and colleagues alike have always repeated the quote “it’s not about what you know but who you know” when networking in college, but this is not entirely true. The art and science of how to sell yourself to someone can be just as important, if not more, and can help spiral you into a variety of opportunities.
Participating in the job search is very similar to many of the processes that sales development representatives (SDR) go through. You scope out potential businesses, just like potential customers, and then figure out how to sell yourself as a valuable asset from their perspective. My experience working as an SDR has allowed me to network much more effectively as I have gained greater confidence and learned how to better emphasize the important details.
When I am networking in college, I try to best understand who the person that I am talking to is and what their needs may be. This mindset helps me be more relatable but also stay true to myself as I think internally about my own qualities that match these needs. Focus on quality over quantity in interactions. People love finding common ground with others and we often focus too much on concrete skills rather than relationship building.
Relationship building and soft skills are being increasingly valued while networking in college as a way to measure candidates and see if they fit into a company. After all, you can teach most people how to do something technical, but you cannot really change who they are as a person and their personality. According to SOCO, the most common mistake sales reps make is approaching interactions with a mindset of being there to get rather than to give.
As an SDR, I am constantly practicing cold calls and speaking with potential customers, which has helped me think more clearly, speak more professionally, practice patience, deal with rejection, learn to improvise, and more. Prior to this role, I was very nervous to speak on the phone and tried to avoid it if possible. Now, I look at these cold calls as a means of forming connections and enhancing my relationship-building skills. I have had incredible conversations and stories throughout my time as an SDR.
When I was searching for internships and jobs, I utilized my skills from my SDR experience constantly in order to exude confidence and act professionally. I was very fortunate to be able to go through the internship interview process with Chewy in which I used my call experience to help me through a case and to be able to sell my skill that I had to offer to the company. I am very excited to be returning to Chewy this summer to start full-time as a Category Analyst at their headquarters in Dania Beach.
The skills that I have learned through my experience as an SDR will truly be timeless as my confidence continues to grow. Everyone should spend some time practicing cold calls and talking to customers to build basic customer service skills and better your ability to sell products. When networking in college and on the job search, you will be entirely more advantaged when you know how to sell yourself!